In the drive to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19, many question where faith communities stand. A new study by Notre Dame sociologist Kraig Beyerlein found that 30 percent of congregants in the United States heard solely encouraging messages about vaccination from faith leaders or fellow members. Another third heard both encouraging and discouraging messaging, and 32 percent heard no messaging at all. Notably, only 5 percent of American congregants received only discouraging messages concerning vaccination from their faith communities.
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Offered through the Department of Political Science, the Hesburgh Program in Public Service, the Constitutional Studies minor, and the Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government, Philanthropy and the Common Good is an experiential course that offers students the opportunity to engage with local nonprofits while learning about the history and role of philanthropy in the U.S. Students in the class this semester awarded grants totaling $78,600 to five organizations during a ceremony on the National Day of Giving.
On her first day teaching at Notre Dame in the late 1990s, then-doctoral student Kathleen Sprows Cummings asked her undergraduates in Ethnicity and American Identity to share why they were taking the course. “Nothing else was open,” was the first reply. It wasn’t the only one.
Times change. Cummings, now the Rev. John A. O'Brien Collegiate Professor of American Studies and History and director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, is the winner of the 2021 Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest teaching honor in the College of Arts & Letters. “She has shaped me into a better student, Catholic, woman, and member of society,” one senior wrote in her letter recommending Cummings for the award. “I strive to become the type of woman and professional that she is.”
When Reginald Dwayne Betts hears the word prison, his first thoughts aren’t about violence or distance or time — he thinks about books. Betts, an artist-in-residence at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study and the Notre Dame Initiative on Race and Resilience, was sentenced to nine years in prison as a 16-year-old. It was there that a book, slid under the door of his cell, changed the course of his life. Now an acclaimed poet, graduate of Yale Law School and 2021 MacArthur Fellow, Betts presented the debut of his solo show Nov. 17 and 18 in the Regis Philbin Studio Theatre at the University of Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.
Notre Dame alumna MacKenzie Isaac ’20 will study at the University of Oxford in England next year as a member of the U.S. Rhodes Scholar Class of 2022. She is one of 32 Rhodes Scholars selected from a pool of 826 candidates this year, and is Notre Dame’s 21st Rhodes Scholar overall and fourth in the past five years. She graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology, minoring in data science and Latino studies.
Using new data, Notre Dame sociologist Joel Mittleman analyzed how sexuality shapes academic performance in unprecedented detail. Mittleman found that gay men’s academic success doesn’t just subtly outshine straight men’s. Roughly 52 percent of gay men in the U.S. have a bachelor’s degree, while the overall national number for all adults in the U.S. is 36 percent. Six percent of gay men in the U.S. have an advanced degree (J.D., M.D., or Ph.D.), which is about 50 percent higher than that of straight men.
Fall Saturdays on Notre Dame’s campus are filled with familiar touchstones. Helmeted competitors preparing to face off. A glint of sunlight reflecting off a majestic wing. Cherished objects brought out for admiring fans. Spectators reveling in the pageantry of it all. But this year, some of those displays predate American football by centuries. Thanks to the Medieval Institute — which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year — home game Saturdays have featured medieval objects and traditions, from fencing demonstrations to falconry, blacksmithing, astronomy, and more.
“The Middle Ages are amazingly important to understanding the modern world,” said Thomas Burman, the Robert M. Conway Director of the Medieval Institute. “That’s part of the reason we say they are ‘the crossroads of everything.’ There are all kinds of things about modern culture that are medieval in origin, including scientific traditions, universities and representative democracy.”
Theodore Beauchaine, the William K. Warren Foundation Professor of Psychology at Notre Dame, is co-director of the Suicide Prevention Initiative—Research, Intervention, & Training (SPIRIT), located off campus at the Department of Psychology Clinical Studies Building. Along with co-director Brooke Ammerman, Beauchaine is helping to teach children and adolescents in the South Bend community to better regulate their emotions, with the goal of reducing risk factors for suicide. One promising tool he is researching is a pocket-sized music player with earbuds that stimulate the vagus nerve with a low amplitude electrical current. “If one has heart disease, you don't wait until they have a first heart attack to intervene. It turns out that suicide prevention is similar to that,” he said.
Notre Dame alumnus Adm. Christopher Grady, the first and only four-star flag or general officer from Notre Dame, has been nominated vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the No. 2 military officer in the country. A history major and three-time monogram winner for fencing, Grady is commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Naval Forces Northern Command, and Naval Forces Strategic Command.
Notre Dame is launching a dynamic new minor in sport, media, and culture (SMAC), a program designed for students interested in careers in sports media and diving deep into critical analyses of sports, representation, and power. Led by the Department of American Studies in partnership with the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, the SMAC minor focuses on the intersection of sports and culture in all forms of media — art, history, journalism, radio, TV, film, and social media. Through an interdisciplinary, scholarly approach to sports studies, students will analyze issues of race, gender, sexuality, class and inequality that shape the modern athletic, business, cultural, and political landscapes.
As a managing director in Accenture's Information Security group, John Blasi ’90 is constantly evaluating new security technologies. His goal is to stay ahead of would-be hackers and other malicious activity and to protect the company’s more than 500,000 employees worldwide. To do so, the Chicago-based executive needs more than just technical skills in the people he hires — he needs a multidisciplinary team that is creative, adaptive, and responsive. He needs liberal arts majors.
Notre Dame’s College of Arts & Letters has launched a new minor in health, humanities, and society, an interdisciplinary program designed to help students analyze the wide range of social and humanistic issues connected to health and medicine. Housed in the John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, the 15-credit minor will offer courses that give undergraduates interested in health-related careers an understanding of the historical precedent, ethical dilemmas, cultural nuance, social complexity, and political economy associated with medicine — and how to apply those lessons to social health in local, scalable, and transferable ways.
Amidst all the anxiety and upheaval created by the coronavirus pandemic, Opera Notre Dame faced a difficult and unique dilemma. How do you give a voice to voice students when their foremost skill — singing opera — poses a potential health risk to others? As uncertainty reigned, they got creative — to make an opera production that was artistically meaningful, educationally rich, and as safe as possible, they made a movie. Please Look: A Cinematic Opera Experience premieres this week at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s Browning Cinema.
An interdisciplinary team of Notre Dame faculty is leading an effort with institutions in Ohio and Kentucky to replicate an experiential learning model for attracting and retaining diverse STEM workforces in Rust Belt cities through university-community partnerships that strengthen quality of life. The three-year project, Replication of a Community-Engaged Educational Ecosystem Model in Rust Belt Cities, is supported by more than $2.5 million from the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program, $1.1 million of which is directed to Notre Dame. Led by the Center for Civic Innovation — which uses technology and methods to address pressing issues in the South Bend/Elkhart area — the project also involves College of Engineering and Department of Psychology faculty in the effort to understand how CCI’s model for community improvement projects functions in other cities under varying circumstances.
For nearly 1,000 years, there has existed a sad division between two branches of the Christian family. Another step on the long path toward reconciliation between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches will be taken this month, when His All-Holiness Bartholomew, Orthodox Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, visits the University of Notre Dame. “His coming here is, first and foremost, a sign of solidarity among Christians, between East and West,” said Alexis Torrance, the Archbishop Demetrios Associate Professor of Byzantine Theology. “And because Notre Dame is a global university, it is also an indication of how members of the academy, across disciplines, want to address the crises we all face — at the level of human relationships, economic injustice and environmental tragedy — in solidarity.”
Ask Charles Leavitt IV to name movies influenced by Italian cinema, and there’s not enough time in the day for the conversation. “The short answer is, it’s everything,” said Leavitt, a Notre Dame associate professor of Italian in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Leavitt’s book on the Italian neorealism movement has received significant acclaim — it won the 2020 Book Prize in Visual Studies, Film and Media from the American Association of Italian Studies and is one of five finalists in American nonfiction for The Bridge / Il Ponet literary prize.
Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., extended his congratulations to Notre Dame alumnus Joe Donnelly on his nomination today as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. “Joe has been an exemplary public servant in Congress, an invaluable friend of Notre Dame and of me personally, and he is an ideal choice to represent the United States at the Vatican,” Father Jenkins said. “He will bring to this role a deep understanding of the issues currently facing our nation and the world, a genuine Catholic faith and an understanding of the role the Church can play in our world. On behalf of the Notre Dame family, I offer my congratulations and prayers as he prepares for this new responsibility.”
Two faculty members in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters have been awarded memberships at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, N.J., one of the world’s foremost centers for intellectual inquiry into the sciences and the humanities. Karen Graubart, an associate professor of history, and Gabriel Radle, the Rev. John A. O'Brien, C.S.C., Assistant Professor of Theology, are two of the 271 new and returning scholars of history, cosmology, mathematics, and countless other disciplines, with whom they’ll share seminars, meals, and conversations this year.
Nicole Woods, a Notre Dame assistant professor of art history, has received the Leonard A. Lauder Visiting Senior Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, a world-renowned institution that brings scholars to Washington, D.C. She will spend much of the spring semester in the nation’s capital, working in the archives of the National Gallery of Art as well as the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. Woods is studying the paintings of Bob Thompson, an African American painter from Kentucky who ran in the Beats' social circles in Greenwich Village after World War II.
Walter Nugent, the Andrew V. Tackes Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Notre Dame, died Sept. 8 in Seattle. He was 86. Nugent taught undergraduate and graduate courses primarily on U.S. migration, the Gilded Age and progressive era, and the U.S. West. His research focused on westward migration in the United States, populism and demography. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and Beinecke Fellowship, the Warsaw University Medal of Merit and two Fulbright Awards.
Reginald Dwayne Betts, the current artist-in-residence at Notre Dame’s Institute for Advanced Study and the Initiative on Race and Resilience, has been named to the 2021 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Class. Betts is one of 25 fellows to be selected for the honor, commonly known as a “Genius Grant,” which aims to recognize “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.”
Yury Avvakumov, an associate professor in the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Theology and a faculty fellow in the University’s Medieval Institute, has been appointed by Pope Francis to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission. The commission, established under Pope Paul VI in 1969, is tasked with examining doctrinal questions of great importance and advising the pope and the Holy See through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Members of the Hispanic Alumni of Notre Dame (HAND), a University of Notre Dame Alumni Association affinity group, gathered virtually Sept. 21 for the second annual Hispanic alumni success stories panel. The event is one of several hosted by the Institute for Latino Studies in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Five Notre Dame graduate students, including two from the College of Arts & Letters, have been accepted into the inaugural cohort of the Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship Pedagogy Fellows for the 2021-2022 academic year. The new fellowship program is an opportunity for Notre Dame Ph.D. students from Arts & Letters and the College of Science to build their teaching expertise, gain instructional experience, and engage in a life-long community of practice.
The University of Notre Dame will host the 31st annual meeting of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium on Oct. 7-9, featuring two public lectures and an inculturated Mass led by Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies and Department of Theology, the event also includes two days of private meetings for symposium members and an invitation-only listening session for Black Catholic students, community members, faculty, and staff.
The Department of Film, Television and Theatre mourns the death of its friend and colleague, professional specialist Karen Heisler. Heisler died Sept. 19. Heisler's Sports and TV class was legendary, as was her dogged insistence on proper grammar and proofreading. As the department internship coordinator, she shepherded countless students through their first experiences in the professional world.
Daniel Philpott, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, and Katharina Westerhorstmann, a professor of theology at Franciscan University, will host a public lecture and a day-long consultation session at Notre Dame on Thursday and Friday (Sept. 23 and 24), examining the Church’s sex abuse crisis and the lessons that may be derived from national truth and reconciliation processes for healing and restoration.
“Ripe for Rivalry? U.S.-China Relations Under the Biden Administration” will feature a discussion of U.S.-China relations featuring a former senior diplomat and think tank president Ivo Daalder, business leaders Girish Rishi and Leo Melamed and a noted strategic analyst, Notre Dame professor Eugene Gholz. The panel will be moderated by Michael Desch, Notre Dame’s Packey J. Dee Professor of International Relations and the Brian and Jeannelle Brady Director of the Notre Dame International Security Center.
Art history majors at Notre Dame pursue their passions while developing skills such as visual literacy, analysis, communication, and information synthesis. "Art history helps us gain a better understanding of the world in today's visual culture," said Cruz Martinez. After graduation, students go on to top graduate and professional schools and work in a variety of professions and industries. “It's very much about storytelling," said art history major Meg Burns. “That's really what drew me to art history and continues to really excite me about coming back to the subject every day.”
Morgan Widhalm Munsen knows that effective communication is key for scientific research to have real life implications. So, in addition to conducting significant research of her own as a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology, Munsen also pursues community-based projects that make science more accessible and understandable to the general public. “It’s not like you can do research and then suddenly expect it to be meaningful to people,” Munsen said. “Which is why I think it’s so important for scientists and researchers to tell stories about their research and help to make it as relevant as possible to people.”